I feel like I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, I don’t usually like romances. Nothing wrong with them, they’re just not my jam. Key word, usually.
I can’t stand the “will they, won’t they”, especially when we all know the answer and the real question is just, “when will they?”, I enjoy a slow burn, but it needs to be a progression and not ups and downs. Personal taste, okay.
I hate most forms of relationship drama, I hate arguing and “now isn’t the right time” when the reason it’s not the right time is so absurd and just…. sometimes it’s done properly and can be enjoyable but as a general rule, I don’t enjoy it, and I certainly wouldn’t trust myself to write it well.
Don’t get me wrong, the ocasional argument is fine, especially when it makes sense. Just if you feel you need drama, and all that drama come from arguing, there comes a point where the audience (or maybe just me) is going, “clearly they’re not good for each other”.
But, all relationships have their ups and their downs, especially if you’re in a fantasy universe where nothing is simple.
So here’s a quick compilation of some forms of drama that aren’t arguing:
1.- Distance, WITH communication! Sometimes characters have to be apart, a mission requires them to split up or maybe they’re infiltrated somewhere and certainly can’t see each other. This often causes me a lot of stress when there’s not communication cause it’s like, we just got here and now you split up (because it always happens as soon as they get together), but if there IS communication, this a completely different story. I love seeing characters sneaking away to write love letters, I love the other character receiving those letters and hugging the bird that bought them. I love when there’s a storm and the letter isn’t on time or gets lost and their worrying over the other one. I love when they finally get to see each other even for just a day and the passion and the longing! I love the tension building up and the payoff when they finally are together again.
I love that this drama doesn’t require any relationship problems and you can actually grow the relationship during it! It also encourages creativity from the characters and it has a good payoff with them getting to see each other again eventually.
2.- Concern. This often ends up in an argument but doesn’t really need to. One of the couples I write consists of a well-trained in combat ready for action woman and her wife who just wants to run a successful inn and live peacefully. As the plot thickens danger is unavoidable, and it’s something they both understand and accept. But that won’t stop the concern. It won’t stop them from pacing waiting to get back from battle, the hugs, the attempt to learn some basic medical training in case one day it could make a difference. They don’t argue, but it’s tension.
3.- Uncertainty, especially in characters that are new to relationships. In real life, people rarely marry their first partner. And a big part of this isn’t always about whether you’re right for one another or not.
This isn’t a rule of life or anything. I’m my current partners first SO and we’ve been together for five years. If you’re in your first relationship I’m not saying it won’t work! Just, in general.
I’m also not saying the only reason people leave first relationships is uncertainty. There are plenty of good reasons to leave a relationship.
But in my first relationship, I found myself often asking questions, “is this love?” “Is this a good relationship or do I just not know any better?” and current partner also had a lot of those thoughts. The more I talk to people, the more I’mve convinced, most people have do this in their first relationship.
It’s natural to wonder if what we’re feeling is real or just new and thereby indistinguishable from something else.
This can be a really fun thing to play with, these questions, talking and working through them. This works best with this dynamic where you have one person who’s new to a relationship and another who isn’t (walk with cautions here because this does create a power-dynamic that you don’t want to let them abuse, obviously… or maybe you do because you aren’t trying to do a healthy relationship, you do you).
This also allows for questions and answers, it allows for explanation and also the questioning of, “I’ve done this before, thereby I think of this as normal, but my new partner is questioning it and now so am I.”
Relationships are complicated. Remember that, because it’s part of the fun.
4.- Mental health and how we deal with it. Some people find comfort in talking, other people find comfort in being quiet. Some people need space while other’s seek out a cosy environment. What problems do your characters have? How do they deal with them? And when will this overlap with each other?
A very quick and easy example of this, one of my fave couples in my books, Emily and Elizabeth. Emily is bubbly and likes to sit down and listen, she enjoyed small talk and knowing things about other people so she can better help them. Elizabeth is as Emily would say, not the opposite but close, she likes keeping to herself. So, reaching a middle ground was a very important part of building their relationship.
5.- Probably not much good for most fantasy YA books which is my safe area, but for older relationships, kids from past relationships. Now not only do you have to build a relationship with the SO, but with younger or older kids who are also probably emotionally dealing with something.
And, that’s the list!